Hummingbird House celebrates five years

Culinary creativity underscores success


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  • Artistic rendering of The Hummingbird House which is housed in the historic Mattison House Photo provided



By Laurie Gordon

— Five years ago, a mother/daughter team transformed the Mattison House, on Route 94 in Newton, into an elegant-yet-affordable culinary destination. Now about to celebrate its fifth anniversary, The Hummingbird House is thriving and features great specials, menu options for those with special dietary needs, and and has catered and hosted countless events including showers, parties, meetings and it's very popular high teas.

It all started when Hampton's Sheryl Biron saw the building — that for years housed The Tea Hive. Her daughter, Elizabeth, is a culinary phenom who's worked in all facets of the restaurant business and dreamed of one day owning her own restaurant. At the time, Elizabeth was living and working in Florida. Her mother called her and told her about the building, and soon Elizabeth was packing her bags to move back home and plans were underway to renovate the building. A commercial kitchen, back porch, central heating and air conditioning as well as painting and adding electrical wiring were all a part of the makeover.

The restaurant opened and quickly carved out a niche serving breakfast and lunch. At the time, the Birons had plans to delve into the catering world and host special events, as well.

Five year's later, Elizabeth Biron said she couldn't have imagined being so successful.

As the restaurant's chef, she's tweaked things here and there, and tries to use locally-sourced ingredients as much as she can. The menu includes a huge array of offerings some of which are super healthy and others that are on, what Biron calls, “the naughty list.”

“Most things are very healthy, but we have a few very popular guilty pleasures,” she said.

One of the most popular items is the sausage, egg and cheese served on a sandwich made from blueberry french toast and drizzled with a decadent blueberry sauce.

Local businesses that The Hummingbird House uses include Hayak's Market, in Newton, where they purchase a special blend of meat for their burgers. They also use Goodness Grows, in Stillwater, for vegetables including specially grown green tomatoes for the usually-only-found-in-the-South Fried Green Tomatoes dish they serve. They get their coffee from Kar's Coffee, in Stilllwater.

Summer weekends are the busiest times for The Hummingbird House, and if you want to book the restaurant for a special event for the spring, now is the time.

“We're already pretty booked up for March,” Biron said.

The Hummingbird House does all kinds of special events including bridal and baby showers, weddings and the high teas. They also host weekly meetings for various business groups. Several weeks ago, they were honored to host an event for Family Promise.

“During the winter, my mom and I try to help out local people in need by getting them cords of wood and meals,” Biron said. “Family Promise is about the same thing, so it was great to get together for this.”

As for the high teas, they are extremely popular and can have whatever theme people want.

“Some of the ones we do include a Marie Antoinette theme and a Mad Hatter them,' she said.

As to the off-premises catered events, Biron said one of her most memorable was a wedding in Warwick, New York. The wedding was to be at an Air B&B, and went over the checklist of items she needed, she was assured that there was a brand new oven.

“When I arrived to prepare, it was a brand new oven alright,” Biron laughed, ”I opened it and all of the tubing and cords were inside.”

It had never been hooked up. But Biron got creative and the event was a huge success.

“One of the things I've learned over the years is that you have to improvise and roll with the punches. Such is life,” she said.

As to special dietary needs, The Hummingbird House is all too familiar with these, and creates custom meals for those who need gluten free, are vegan, are diabetic or can't have nightshades.

“Whatever the special diet, we can cater to it,” Biron said.

Biron is always trying new things and adding her new creations. Her version of chicken waffles, for instance, is quite a hit.

“I get bored and don't want to be traditional so I put a spin on things,” she said.

Before it became The Hummingbird House, the historic building housed The Tea Hive.

“It was very women oriented and sometimes people think we're the same,” Biron said. “That's why we've been sure to add some things for the guys. I can put anything on a sandwich.”

To this end, one very popular creation is her Turkey Panini. It's a whole roasted turkey, homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce and sage mayonnaise served with herb turkey gravy on the side for dipping!

Of her mom, Biron said, “She's my right hand girl and we really compliment each other so well. I love working with her.”

When asked if she had any plans for the restaurant for the future, Biron said, “Oh, just seven billion of them! I really respond to what customers have to say and we just keep on growing. Sussex County is such a gem in itself, and it's great to have a business here. I want to stay focuses, as always, in high quality food that we make in house from scratch. My customers bring great suggestions, too, and sometimes I can't believe what they think of. Brilliant.”

The Hummingbird House offers outside dining when the weather is nice, and pick up is popular if people want to eat at home but not have to cook.

“You never know who's going to walk in the door,” Biron said, “We pay attention to the details and keep things delicious and creative.”

The Hummingbird House is located at 310 Route 94 South in Newton. For further information, reservations or to book a special event, call 973.300.0333 or visit www.hummingbirdhousenj.com. They are also on Facebook.

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